2021 Kia Sorento First Drive Review: Why This Is No Mini-Telluride

Don’t count on the brand new 2021 Kia Sorento to really feel like a miniature model of its star sibling, the Telluride. When you get to know the Sorento, you’ll perceive. The three-row Sorento bursts out of the Telluride’s shadow with a extra chiseled look than earlier than, a stunning driving expertise, and the flexibility to compete throughout three segments. Sure, three. Actually.

Phase-straddling versatility isn’t new territory for the Sorento; the 2021 mannequin merely presents a simpler case for itself. That’s as a result of there’s extra of just about every little thing (besides size). Kia stuffs the marginally wider Sorento with extra commonplace security tech, extra energy from the bottom engine, extra effectivity in each configuration, extra engine choices, extra inside area, and—on account of all this more-ness—extra money for a base mannequin. The previous-gen Sorento’s L trim is gone, leaving the 2021 Sorento LX as the entry-level offering. Coming in at $30,560, the brand new Sorento LX is about $1,300 greater than earlier than. That after once more makes it some of the inexpensive three-rows within the trade. The SUV is available in $2,600 lower than a 2021 Telluride LX, and in comparison with the Sedona minivan … we’re simply kidding; we all know you aren’t thinking about spacious and practical minivans.

Extra Torque Than a Telluride

A hybrid and plug-in hybrid will observe the 2021 Sorento’s launch engines, which embrace a 191-hp 2.5-liter I-Four and a 281-hp 2.5-liter turbocharged I-Four with a whopping 311 lb-ft of torque—that’s 49 lb-ft greater than within the Telluride’s naturally aspirated V-6. Go for the EX 2.5T or SX 2.5T trims with that engine, and you’ll completely really feel that oomph. Whether or not they prefer it or not, the tires will, too. We discovered that the 2021 Sorento’s 281 horses and 311 lb-ft are an excessive amount of for the SUV to deal with in FWD kind. Should you deliberate on utilizing that spectacular energy to make coming into visitors or passing simpler, know that you simply’ll want some finesse to keep away from spinning the entrance tires. Or pay $1,800–$2,000 for AWD.

With AWD, the 2021 Sorento 2.5T’s engine makes extra sense. In that configuration, it would shock quite a lot of lead-footed prospects on check drives. Actually, although, it’s not simply the turbocharged powerplant however the eight-speed dual-clutch it’s paired with. With assist from AWD traction, that transmission does an admirable job extracting efficiency from the turbo-four. When that you must speed up shortly, the Sorento delivers the kind of near-immediate response you count on of sports activities vehicles, not six- or seven-passenger SUVs.



That dual-clutch transmission, nevertheless, can also be the Sorento 2.5T’s best flaw.

In our 2021 Sorento SX FWD and 2021 Sorento X-Line AWD check SUVs, the dual-clutch delivered an unacceptable lack of refinement in on a regular basis driving. It is a family-oriented SUV first, and the early-production models we drove lacked the smoothness we praised concerning the Telluride, a automobile that comes with a conventional computerized transmission. A FWD SX mannequin particularly had this difficulty, sometimes exhibiting shudders felt by means of the pedals and seats at very low speeds. In each SUVs, it was tougher than it must be to speed up or edge ahead easily as a result of transmission and surges of energy from the turbo-four. Nonetheless, for those who’re after a midsize SUV that feels fast, the 2021 Sorento 2.5T fashions can be one place to start out. Simply have a protracted take into consideration how necessary smoothness and transmission refinement are to you.

The X-Line mannequin (proven right here in inexperienced) comes with an upgraded AWD system with a center-locking differential and downhill descent management. Journey peak can also be elevated by an inch to eight.Three inches.

What’s the 2021 Sorento’s Competitors? (The whole lot)

Should you admire the 2021 Sorento’s mixture of huge SUV model at almost compact SUV costs, strive the LX or S trims. Each supply FWD and AWD, however with a 191-hp I-Four and a extra standard eight-speed computerized. Maybe as a result of the brand new 2.5T engine improves effectivity a lot over the V-6 it replaces, the bottom 2.5 fashions have EPA-rated effectivity that’s not a lot totally different from the trims with the 90-hp extra highly effective engine.

Even so, for those who just like the Sorento and aren’t positive concerning the 2.5T trims, think about the $33,060 S. That trim provides a smart key and push-button begin, options we couldn’t think about dwelling with out on a $30,000-plus automobile as we speak. Should you can resist the temptation of an influence liftgate and electrical parking brake—sadly not out there with the usual engine—the 2021 Sorento might captivate a Honda CR-V purchaser prepared to sacrifice one or two options for a bigger bundle.

Extra typically, the 2021 Sorento’s competitors will probably be midsize two-row SUVs, together with the Subaru Outback, Ford Edge, and Hyundai Santa Fe. With an ordinary third row and a garage-ready size of solely 189.Zero inches, the 2021 Sorento actually does have a singular promoting level within the section. However it’s no mini Telluride. Though each SUVs had been designed in California, the Sorento has totally different exterior particulars entrance to rear, from the horizontal headlights to the side-vent-like door trim and the extra angular surfacing in again.

Let’s Discuss About That Three-Row Inside

Each 2021 Sorento has three rows of seating. Should you get a Sorento LX 2.5 or S 2.5, the format features a second-row bench seat and a seven-passenger capability. Go along with a Sorento EX 2.5T, SX 2.5T, or hybrid for a six-passenger format with second-row captain’s chairs. Each of our check SUVs featured this format.

The Sorento’s not-quite-full-size size compromises the third row, however possibly not in the best way you count on. Roll ahead the second-row seats, and the third row seats are cozy, not unusable. The actual difficulty—what makes them extra of what Kia calls “5+2” seating—is how excessive the ground is behind the second row. That and the small facet home windows (one other departure from the blocky Telluride) restrict the Sorento’s three-row skills from everyday-carpooler to an occasional-use perk. When that third row is folded down, the second row can roll again to create extra room.

If, however, you’re utilizing that third row, press a button on the second-row seats to observe the backrest fold and your entire seat roll ahead. The ensuing opening into the third row remains to be small, however the further comfort is appreciated. As is the trendy inside that makes a press release whereas principally preserving perform, too.

Street Journey Prepared?

Should you’re looking for a highway journey–prepared trip, the Sorento might work. Each of our check SUVs rolled on 20-inch wheels and delivered a stiff however not harsh trip. Not ultimate for a protracted freeway drive, but in addition not a deal-breaker. Additionally they supplied a reasonably quiet expertise at velocity. If the highway forward turns twisty, the Sorento will definitely really feel sportier than the extra sedate Telluride. Even with the stiff suspension, respectable steering tuning, and the out there turbo engine, although, the Sorento by no means feels as sporty as, say, the smaller Mazda CX-5.

In case your highway journeys involving towing, know that the 2021 Sorento tows simply as a lot because the 2020 mannequin in FWD kind, but it surely maxes out at 3,500 kilos with AWD in comparison with the 2020 Sorento V-6 AWD’s 5,000 kilos. Oh, and we hope future Sorentos will undertake a sensible key system that doesn’t require a button push on the door to unlock.

Is the 2021 Sorento Price It?

We just like the swifter and extra trendy Sorento, however in our early expertise with two check SUVs, the two.5T’s dual-clutch transmission isn’t definitely worth the trade-off in on a regular basis smoothness. The Sorento S or the reasonably priced hybrid might have potential for those who don’t thoughts the latter variant’s FWD-only configuration. Both method, the Sorento is price consideration throughout all kinds of SUV desires. Choose your trim rigorously to keep away from long-term grumbling, and also you may discover that is all of the three-row SUV you actually need.

2021 Kia Sorento
PRICE $30,560-$43,760
LAYOUT Entrance-engine, FWD/AWD, 6-7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.5L/191-hp/181-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve 4-cyl; 2.5L/281-hp/311-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve 4-cyl; 1.6L/177-hp/195-lb-ft turbo 4-cyl, plus 60-hp/195-lb-ft electrical motor, 227 hp/258 lb-ft mixed
TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto, 8-speed dual-clutch auto, 6-speed auto (hybrid)
CURB WEIGHT 3,700-4,150 lb (mfr)
WHEELBASE 110.Eight in
L x W x H 189.Zero x 74.Eight x 66.7-70.Three in
0-60 MPH 7.2-8.9 sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 21-39/25-35/24-37 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 86-160/96-135 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.52-0.82 lb/mile (est)

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